Levitation Live Shot: Slowdive
UK shoegazers salvage some Souvlaki
By Neph Basedow,
11:11AM, Sat. Apr. 30, 2016
A horde of hopefuls converged on the Scoot Inn Friday night, most Levitation-goers suddenly SOL. Unable to procure tickets to one of the less than a dozen makeup shows, spillover fans cased sold-out venues, these hell-bent on seeing Slowdive. Some climbed atop cars to peep the Eastside venue’s outdoor stage. Even a neighboring bulldozer was deployed.
Straightaway, the UK quintet acknowledged the obvious.
“Where’s the rain?!” begged singer Rachel Goswell.
The Brits then calibrated their fest-ready set without hitch. From 1991 debut Just for a Day came “Catch the Breeze.” 1995’s Pygmalion was also revisited, via “Crazy for You." 1993 breakout Souvlaki was most frequently tapped ("Machine Gun").
Thanks to heaping reverb, Slowdive lyrics are, historically, hard to decipher. Friday’s crowd, though, comprised mostly of super-fans privy to lyrics’ underlying significance, mouthed right along. “When the Sun Hits” relayed particularly poignant, bandleader Neil Halstead’s evasive but plaintive verses slicing heartstrings. Two decades later, Souvlaki songs still recall Goswell and Halstead’s one-time romance – and subsequent breakup. Both of which inspired so much of the quintet’s catalog.
Peering downward as their feet whipped between guitar pedals, the shoegazers’ ambient dream-pop emerged by way of swirling tones and airy atmosphere. Pixies buff Nick Chaplin leveled feathery vocals with post-punk-skewed basslines. Souvlaki single “Alison” – the band’s biggest, if only definitive “hit” – wavered briefly upon a sound snag as technicians fine-tuned an amp.
Their 75 minutes nearly up, the set list suddenly curtailed. Time! Those peeping Slowdive performances online noticed that “Dagger” was axed, and sadly.
Midnight nearing, the band commenced its epic closeout. As Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe perched in the front row, Goswell began Syd Barrett’s subtle “Golden Hair.” Then, she smiled, turned on her cherry-red Mary Janes, and vanished.
The remaining foursome continued playing, against a backdrop of liquid rainbow. After a monumental rock & roll jam, the men leaned their guitars against their respective amps to draw feedback. Drummer Simon Scott then stood from his kit and bowed, his hands at heart center.
Fans echoed that gratitude, shouting their thanks, then retreated into a still rainless night.